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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 12-13-03, 10:35 PM   #1
nabwong
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LBS vs DIY

What kind of maintanence and equipment change would you do it yourself and what to get a pro to do?

Components are just so much cheaper off the internet and service charge is really expensive for a student. However, i understand the value of having good rapport with your LBS.

What do you guys think? Please don't mind me posting stuff here. I just moved here (US) and am starting to bike again.
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Old 12-14-03, 12:22 AM   #2
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I do everything myself, with the exception of installing a headset, mainly cause I don't have the tool. The first thing you have to do with DIY is to know you limitations and bring it to the shop before you seriously screw something up. I build my own wheels, rebuild and adjust the suspension fork on my MTB and take my bottom bracket and stuff out. My LBS knows that I like to work on my bike, they even told me that it isn't rocket science fixing a bike and they thought it was cool that I took the initative and fixed my own bikes. If I have problems I usually take it in and they have all the proper tools they can help me fix it. Plus I get all my parts off them, even for my other two bikes which I bought at different shops, we have no cheap mail order here in Canada, plus they usually give me killer discounts and throw in the odd freebee so it makes up for their slightly higher prices. I usually don't have alot of spare cash lying around either, so I find it best to do upgrades and fixing over a period of time, it is easier to pay for one little thing every week instead of buying it all at once.
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Old 12-14-03, 10:43 AM   #3
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I do it all by myself, but then that's because I work in a lbs.
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Old 12-14-03, 10:55 AM   #4
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The first tool you should buy is a good book on bicycle mechanics. I have several, but my favorite is Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair. Others like Leonard Zinn's books. Like FLYBYU I do just about everything myself except headsets, though lately I have been letting my LBS do most things strictly because they are right on my ride home from work and can usually do things while I wait. I just don't get time to do things at home lately. If you read instructions through a couple of times most things are actually quite simple. I was initially intimidated about pulling cranks and servicing the bb. Heck, there is really nothing to it. BUT you do need the proper tools for some things, especially pulling cranks. Just buy a tool here and there as you need them and have a little money. A good cable cutter is a must, too. Spend a little money here and get a Park or other high grade cutter. For the crank puller and some other things I have been perfectly satisfied with less expensive brands available from Nashbar and Performance. Lifu brand is inexpensive but works fine.
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Old 12-14-03, 11:14 AM   #5
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If you're going to DIY, collect tools, make sure to use the right tool for the right job, nothing is more costly than paying someone to fix a mistake. Something that makes every job easier is a sturdy bike repair stand, I have a Park stand (there are several on the market), which is sturdy yet foldable, easy to take on trips, easy to store out of the way, saves my 40 year old back for riding.

I worked at my LBS in college and most repair trips could be eliminated by keeping things clean, lubed, and in proper adjustment.

Having said that, support your LBS, most are riders too.
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Old 12-14-03, 12:29 PM   #6
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I usually take apart then put my bike back together once a month for practice. I can pretty much say I can fix anything
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Old 12-14-03, 09:11 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. Yeah, i have the zinn book. Gotta start collecting tools now. Some of the problem also lies in the knowledge to know which parts are compatible.
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Old 12-14-03, 09:26 PM   #8
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I do all the basic stuff myself except true wheels (bike is relatively new and in need of very little maint.).
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Old 12-14-03, 09:52 PM   #9
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I do all of my own work, except on the very rare occasion that I lack the proper, expensive tool. I repaired and salvaged various bikes during high school and as a UCLA undergrad and later worked part-time in a couple of different bike shops, where I was permitted to accumulate various tools of the trade at dealer's wholesale cost. Lacking space for a proper shop stand, I make do with bungie cords suspended from the garage rafters or open garage door. I have a decent truing stand, but prefer to do minor spoke adjustments right on the bike, using the brake pads as a guide.
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Old 12-15-03, 12:43 PM   #10
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In my mind, even if you do most of you own work you can still have good rapport with your lbs. At the shop I'm at, people sometimes get shy asking for parts or tools, but in the end if I'm still eventually selling something to you, who cares? It's nice to see people taking the initiative.
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Old 12-15-03, 12:59 PM   #11
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No shop can know your bike like you do. That is, if you choose to. I make sure Ihave plenty of tools to sell the DIY folks and friendly advice on using them. For every DIY person out there, ther are 20 people who can't be bothered. I fix their bikes.
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Old 12-15-03, 01:10 PM   #12
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I do everything except headsets, and Wheel truing... I know a lot of people do it... I' ve tried a couple times, and usually just end up making it worse on my old beater.. on my good bike I have shamino 540 wheels with a lot less spokes.. I'm truly afraid to try those.. they go to the shop

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Old 12-15-03, 05:18 PM   #13
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Like daffydd said, its easy to have a great rapport with your local LBS and be a DIY'er like a lot of us are. I actually get great prices from my LBS and they do give me some advice (I was out of the loop for 7 years and had to get 'caught up')

quote:
Quote:
Check the Barnett's manual as well to dissipate some 'myths' about repairs.
Then how do you acount for some of the myths in Barnetts manual itself?
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Old 12-15-03, 08:51 PM   #14
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Yup, all i want for christmas are tools, tools and more tools. I just sent my bike to my LBS to have my stem cut though. Don't think i'll buy a hacksaw and guided clamp. Heh!
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Old 12-16-03, 06:33 AM   #15
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Do you guys tip for servicing?
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Old 12-16-03, 03:05 PM   #16
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Read barnetts. For servicing I'm assuming your asking about adjustment of gears, brakes and etc. The Barnetts manual is great for all those types of servicing.
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Old 12-16-03, 07:48 PM   #17
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I do most things myself. There are a couple of things for which I don't have the proper tool and can't justify the expense since they are done so infrequently. This past week I took a new Orbea frame to my LBS to have the bottom bracket chased and faced. The tool costs $150+ and my local guy charged me $10 to do the job. I have a tool that will set a headset race on a 1" fork but not a 1.125" fork. So that goes to the LBS too since he only charges me $5 to do that. Otherwise I do everything else, including wheel building. I've made some mistakes, but nothing I wasn't able to recover from, like when I slide the axle out of a freehub and all those little springs went - fling!!!! When you buy tools ask yourself how often you will use them and then buy the best that you can afford given the amount you will use it. For example, Park makes two levels of cone wrenches, the regular and the professional. Most home mechanics can get by quite well with the regular ones since you will only use them once in a while. On the other hand, if money is no object...
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Old 12-16-03, 08:45 PM   #18
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I like to do things myself. Consequently, I've botched a lot of jobs. But learned a lot in the process. Anymore, I do most everything myself. I don't do wheels, mainly because if one failed you're SOL. And on many of my rides I'm miles from nowhere... a bad place to be SOL. If you have access to a good wheelbuilder, barring any serious incident, getting wheels trued is a once-a-year maintenance kind of thing.

All the advice other posters have given is good. If you have access to a good, trustworthy wrench, by all means utilize him/her for any jobs that you aren't comfortable with, or that aren't going well.

I give tips for special service, like if they take the bike right in to do some quicky work, or if the service was clearly something where the wrench went to extra trouble. No tips for "we can't get to it for a week," standard service.
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Old 12-16-03, 08:54 PM   #19
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I won't let the LBSs touch my bikes. I'd take a damaged frame to a builder, but short of that, I can handle it. I've been able to figure out most everything, including headset installation, which I've done w/o the expensive tool before no problem (though I now own the tool and will admit to vastly prefering it). I even build my own wheels for the most part (half of my bikes have sets I've made) and have never had a problem.

However, all my bikes save one are of a certain vintage, and if I had, say, an ergopower shifter, just looking at the exploded view is enough to make my little brain explode as well. That kind of stuff I'd be tempted to take to someone else.
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Old 12-16-03, 10:04 PM   #20
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Like most home mechanics I do everything except wheel truing and headsets. Having several bikes this saves me a lot of money. It also saves me dropping off the bike and then finding time to pick it up later.

CHEERS.

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Old 12-17-03, 10:21 AM   #21
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On my BMXs, I do pretty much everything, including dodgy headset installs. I've built a fair few wheels (well, actually the same 3 or 4 over and over ), but when I came off my road bike and got a wobble in my back wheel I took it in (don't know why, scared of messing up such a pretty wheel I guess). I can and do do most stuff on my roadie, but I'm not too good with derailers, but that'll come with practice. Integrated headsets are definately for the pros though.

The only specific bike tools I have are a couple of spoke keys and a cone wrench for my freecoaster. I usually just use whatever fits the bill (my Dad has a fairly well-fitted workshop), like an old axle and some big washers for headset cups. I have done the occasional frame mod (removed brake posts and trimmed dropouts on a BMX), and I even ride homemade handlebars.
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Old 12-17-03, 12:01 PM   #22
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I like to do most things myself. I just finished building my 2nd mountain bike from the frame up. I've been working on my own bikes since I was a kid on BMX bikes. There are a couple of things I'll take it to the lbs for: wheel truing, fork race setting, and derrailleur adjustments that tie me up. Setting the fork race is easy, it's just that the tool is over $100 and my lbs does it for $5 or free. I get alot of satisfaction working on my own bikes and know what to look for if I have problems on the trail.
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Old 12-17-03, 10:40 PM   #23
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Wheel truing is really easy guys, the secret is patience, and if I have enough anyone can do it But when you are truing a wheel don't turn the spokes more then a 1/4 turn at a time, a 1/4 turn makes a huge difference, I usually go by 1/8 turns. Last summer I built up a disc wheel for my mountain bike/touring bike, I use it for loaded touring with 30lbs+me on the wheel, its got 1500 miles on it now with no problems. Basically after I built the wheel I decided to torture test it to make sure it was up to the challange, hopped it off curbs, down stairs and landed bad on the sharp edge of the curb, stuff like that, then I did several top speed runs and locked up the back brake to make sure it could take full use of the disc. It's really not hard to do and if you screw up the wheel it's always easy to fix again.
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Old 12-18-03, 07:31 AM   #24
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I installed my first crank and i was amazed at how effortless it is. I guess all you need is the right tool huh?
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Old 12-18-03, 04:38 PM   #25
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tools and a little knowhow will get you anywhere.

Tools and not knowing what you're doing won't get you anywhere, conversely.

Don't be in a hurry the first time you try a new repair or installation. You'll mess it up, have to do it even faster, mess it up more and break something.

It's quality off the bike time spent with your bike. Don't waste it, but don't rush it.
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